A Few Fun Latin Flavors

If you read my post yesterday, I left you with a little teaser about more things to come.  As I mentioned, I was in the kitchen all morning making some delicioso delights from our Southern neighbors.   You all know I made the dulce de leche brownies con pistachios, which were a big hit, by the way.   I also made some Puerto Rican pork empanadas, with salsa de ajili mojili, and of course, some guacamole.  When we arrived at our friends’ house, everyone thought I made too much food.  However, when it was time to leave, all the food had disappeared and everyone was happy and full.  So maybe I didn’t make too much after all.

My husband and I “inherited” a smoker from one of his brothers not too long ago, when his brother replaced his old smoker for a new one.  The first thing we made was some smoked pork.   I planned the meal based around the smoked pork, but knew I wanted to stick with a Latin theme, which wasn’t that difficult since pork is very popular in lot of Latin American cooking.   So I hit the books from my culinary library and looked for something just right for the occasion.  I found the recipe for Ajili Mojili Extravagante, which is a traditional Puerto Rican dip using their local chilies known as aji dulce, garlic (a lot of garlic, which is fine with me), vinegar and lemon juice.  The salsa is named after a famous restaurant in San Juan, and was dubbed by the the restaurant after which it was named, and the residents of San Juan, as the mother of all salsas.  Before using it for my empanadas, we also used it on our eggs for breakfast as well.  It is a very versatile salsa, often used on meats, fish, rice or beans.  It is almost a meal by itself.  It is bold and full of flavor, just the way we like it.

Empanadas de Puerca y Ajili Mojili Extravagante.

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Larry, on one of the rare occasions I actually let him in the kitchen, cutting his smoked pork.  He smoked it for about 7 hours.  It was very tender and flavorful.

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Making the ajili mojili salsa.

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Shredded pork with ajili mojili salsa and cooked sweet potatoes for the empanada filling.

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Making the empanadas.

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The guacamole.

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Jeanne’s Ajili Mojili Extravagante 

3 Roma tomatoes, diced small

1/3 cup white onion, small dice

3 TBSP green pepper, small dice

2 jalapenos, diced fine

3 TBSP garlic, minced

2 TBSP capers, drained

2 1/2 TBSP toasted almond slivers

3 TBSP cilantro, chopped

3 TBSP lemon verbena, chiffonade (optional)

2 TBSP parsley, chopped

3 TBSP red wine vinegar

3 TBSP lemon juice

salt & pepper to taste

ground aji amarillo chiles to taste

1-1 1/2 tsp each oregano, marjoram and thyme

 

Mix all the the ingredients together and chill for at least one hour before using.  Esta muy delicioso!  Desfrutas!

 

My empanada dough was just my basic go-to standard dough that I use for so many things.

3 1/2 cups flour

12 TBSP COLD butter, cubed small

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

This made about 2 dozen empanadas that were about 3″ each.

Mix the flour, cold butter and salt in a food processor until everything is well incorporated.  Then add your eggs and cream and mix together until it forms a ball.  Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and chill for at least a half hour before using.  Then roll out onto a lightly floured surface and cut or shape as desired.

My secret for a light and flaky dough is to use cold butter.  I also like using heavy whipping cream because it gives it a real rich flavor.  Some people use water and some people use milk.  Both of these are fine as well.  It is all just a personal choice.  Whether you use water, milk or cream though, you want them to be cold.   I have even known some people that use vodka in their dough, but my favorite is the heavy whipping cream.

I rolled my dough very thin, about 1/4-1/2″ thick and cut them them in 3″ round circles.  After I cut my dough, I flattened them even more before filling them.  Use about 1-1 1/2 heaping TBSP of filling per circle.   If you over fill them, particularly if your filling has any liquid in it, the dough will get really soggy and mushy and it will become very difficult to work with.  Once the circles are filled, bring the ends together and pinch them tight.  Some people even roll them together as part of the pinching.   Use a fork to push down the edges to ensure the pockets are sealed.  Sometimes I fry my empanadas and sometimes I bake them.  Today, I baked them, so brushed an egg wash over the top to help them brown.  I baked them at 350*F for about 1/2 hour, or until they were golden brown.

My egg wash was one egg and just a dash of heavy whipping cream whisked together, and then I brushed it over my empanadas.  Again, some people use water, or milk, and it is just a personal choice.  Because of the different sugar content in all of these, the browning will be a little different.  I like using the heavy whipping cream because it has a slightly higher sugar content, which gives it a little bit more of a browning effect.

 

*** Ground Aji Amarillo Chilies is from Savory Spice, based out of Denver, CO.  This has become one of my favorite spices.  I use it for a lot of dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

6 thoughts on “A Few Fun Latin Flavors”

  1. I’m speechless as to how Mexican you are…lol! Love your recipes… I’m gaining weight from the photos.

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  2. Muchas Gracia mi Amiga! I told you I grew up in the L.A. area, and I KNOW good Mexican food! One of my chefs used to tell me all the time “Tu corazon no esta Americana, pero esta Mexicana”. Who knows, maybe he was right. I am gaining weight too. Maybe we will just have to work out even harder. 🙂

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